Old Tyme Anguilla
Old Tyme Anguilla
An Anguilla Jollification Scene (Alex Lomax, photographer)
Insofar as the Xmas / NYrs holiday season is often a time for reflection, this holiday season I’ll reflect on Olde Tyme Anguilla, which I’d define as the period between the ending of the Revolution with the landing of British troops in 1969 and the cessation of door to door caroling in 2000–and as a quick mea culpa, the proof that I’m getting older is that I believe Olde Tyme Anguilla was a most wonderful time on island just as older folks always think days of yore as being better than days of present…since Greek neoclassical times, elder generations have derided the values of younger generations (“Oh, the music they listen to nowadays!”).
Early Olde Tyme Anguilla truly was a pre-modern time as telephones were few and far between (to find someone you drove to their house to be told by their wife they went to visit their mother to be told by their mother they went to visit their brother to be told be their brother they went to visit their “out woman” to finally hopefully find them there and not have to search further), roads were unpaved and dusty and dominated by flocks of goats and sheep (motorcars were scarce while livestock was plentiful as one could easily wait “forever” for the animals to make way), electricity poles and wires were basically nonexistent (servicing only the capital, The Valley) so that TV reception wasn’t available and radio reception was limited to the BBC (and the local station, Radio Anguilla). Early Old Tyme Anguilla entered into Late Stage Olde Tyme Anguilla with the electrification of the island (which began, more or less, in 1980 and was completed, more or less, in 1985) as during my first number of years here there were very few generators so that most light was provided by oil lamp (I recall driving past nighttime street side church services lit by lamp) and most food storage was enabled by buying blocks of ice from the Ice Plant or via propane powered refrigerators and freezers (all of which were cumbersome meaning people ate fresh as storage was difficult with weekend butchering complemented by daily fishing being the basis of most on island eating), restaurants were nonexistent (other than Lucy’s Harbour View / Richardson’s The Ultra Cool), hotels were charming but basic and limited (Jerry Gumbs Rendezvous Bay Hotel / Lloyd’s Guesthouse).
This Late Stage Olde Tyme Anguilla (1985 – 2000, approx.) was a modernizing time but the island still had an extended family feel (more intimate than a small town feel) as electrification brought with it increased TV and radio reception along with easier food storage so that home and supermarket options expanded–however in this era the notion of it taking a village to raise a child didn’t waiver nor did traditional extended family obligations and commitments change (as “Jollifications” which were weekends when families and friends would gather to help each other build or enlarge homes with men constructing and women cooking with kids being in the way or helping best they could, were still prevalent events) but world class hotels began to appear (my family’s Cinnamon Reef / Leon Roydon’s Malliouhana), upscale restaurants began to open (Blanchard’s Mangoes / Mazza’s Barrel Stay), tourists began to arrive and real estate began to sell.
However all phases of Old Tyme Anguilla essentially ended with the fore mentioned cessation of caroling–I remember fondly waking my daughter to have her listen to the choirs of various church groups who went from house to house singing Christmas carols (serenades which inevitably ended with “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” which can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-OF7KGyDis if you don’t know the tune). The reasons for the cessation are varied and range from increasing concerns about privacy to society becoming less codependent as home entertainment became more prevalent to more people being employed in both day and evening jobs as the economy expanded to increased vehicular traffic making walking nighttime roads more hazardous–however, as logical and inevitable as the cessation was, it’s a lost art and joy for which I’ll always be pleased that I found and relished during my first decade and a half on island…but with all of the above in mind, our “modern” Anguilla retains innumerable and varied charms as all familiar with our island home well know: numerous 5 star hotels and abundant Airbnb options / street side food trucks and beach side gourmet dining / an endearingly decent citizenry (Anguilla and expat alike).
Scott L. Hauser, Director
ProRealty (Anguilla) Ltd
Office Phone: 264.498.0123